Flintshire councillor up in arms over vetted mail

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

A VETERAN councillor is fuming after discovering council staff have been opening his mail.

Saltney councillor Klaus Armstrong Braun says he has only recently been made aware that it is normal practice for staff in the members’ services department to vet internal mail addressed to councillors.

He told the Leader: “I was given a tip-off that my mail was being tampered with at County Hall.

“I then checked a letter and it was all crumpled and had Sellotape on it so that made me very suspicious.”

After making enquiries Cllr Armstrong Braun was instructed that it is council procedure to check internal mail.

A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: “In the members’ services area at County Hall there are pigeon holes for members’ correspondence.

“Following a few complaints from members about receiving inappropriate communications back in April 2009, a notice was put up explaining that members’ services staff would check internal mail items received from other departments for all members and put them in the correct pigeon holes.

“This does not apply to external mail or anything marked private and confidential.”

Since the policy was introduced council bosses have received no more complaints about inappropriate mail.

However, Cllr Armstrong Braun claims it is an attempt by the council to catch out whistle blowers who could be writing to him with their concerns.

He added: “I think they are checking to see if we have got any whistleblowers amongst the staff.

“I don’t blame the members’ services staff – it’s a disgrace that they are being told to do this.”

Cllr Armstrong Braun has reported the problem to the police, but was told it is not a criminal offence.

He insisted, however: “It’s unlawful under the Data Protection Act.”

See full story in the Leader

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